The under-fire Carolina Hurricanes made a big move for the future of their blueline on Monday, signing Justin Faulk to a six-year, $29 million contract extension.
Faulk, 22, was a pending RFA in the final year of his entry-level contract. The extension will see him get paid $2.5 million in 2014-15, $3.5 million in 2015-16, $5.5 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and $6 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20, for an average annual cap hit of $4.833 million.
“Justin has proven to be among the best young defensemen in the league as confirmed by his selection to the U.S. Olympic team,” ‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement. “He has been and will continue to be the anchor of the Hurricanes’ defense for years to come.”
One of the few bright spots in what’s been an extremely disappointing campaign for Carolina, Faulk sits second among all ‘Canes d-men in points (24) and time on ice per game (23:22). He was, as mentioned, named to the U.S. Olympic team that finished fourth in Sochi, drawing into the lineup after Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin suffered a broken hand during the tournament.
The 37th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Faulk has emerged as one of the best defensemen of his draft class and became a quality contributor at the NHL level faster than a number of higher drafted blueliners, including Dylan McIlrath (10th overall, Rangers), Brandon Gormely (13th overall, Coyotes) and Derek Forbort (15th overall, Kings).
As for the ‘Canes, re-upping with Faulk was a no-brainer — what will be interesting, though, is to see if the man in charge of signing players, Rutherford, is allowed to continue. There have been reports that “major changes” could be coming in Carolina and Rutherford, who committed over $130 million to Jordan Staal, Alex Semin and Jeff Skinner, could be part of the shakeup.